HP Lovecraft’s “The Statement of Randolph Carter”

Distress Frequency
Distress Frequency
HP Lovecraft's "The Statement of Randolph Carter"

“But I do not fear Harley Warren now, for I suspect that she has known horrors beyond my ken. Now I fear for her.”

This was the very first episode we recorded, about six years ago. On that day, we missed a page and a half, and then it took a few years to get everyone together to record that last page. Then, I had to redo the edit in Audition. And then a pandemic hit.

I just relistened to it, and I gotta say I think it holds up. There are some things I’d do differently in the SFX mix, but all-in-all I think it’s OK.

Cast & Crew

  • Randolph Carter: Micah Jenkins
  • Harley Warren: Alycia Yates
  • Recordamotography: Micah Jenkins
  • Producer: Tony Goins

About this Piece

I don’t think we’re the only ones to do Randolph Carter for audio, but I’m pretty sure we’re the only ones who gender-flipped it. I really like Alycia Yates as Harley Warren here – as always, she is an offbeat, otherworldly presence. Honestly, I wish HP wrote a prequel so we could hear more of Alycia questing after forbidden knowledge. And Micah Jenkins really hits that right note of outrage and confusion as the exhausted Randolph Carter.

Micah deserves a special commendation for handling the “feeble wavering beams” and “mausolean facades.” Ol’ Howard Phillip was definitely not writing for the ear.

I have a very specific recollection of reading this story for the first time. I was sitting in a coffee shop in Grandview Heights, on paternity leave, right after the birth of our first child. This is also the time I read Edgar Allen Poe for the first time. It was a joyous time in my life, but I found myself reading old-school horror. There’s probably no deeper meaning there.

Do you like Lovecraft? One of our other producers, Jerod Brennen, wrote a piece for the Lovecraft Zine a few years back, that was also done as an audio. Check out Bus Stop by Jerod Brennen once you get done with Randolph Carter here.  

SFX Corner

I created the sound of a slab being lifted off a tomb by dragging the lid of a toilet across the tank. It’s surprisingly effective. I stuck that up on Freesound.org if you want to use it – Scraping sound – toilet. As of this writing, its been downloaded 52 times.

I don’t entirely remember which all sounds I got from Freesound for this piece, but here’s the best of my recollection:



Stone Steps


Bicycle Kickstand

Downs: The White Ghost

Distress Frequency
Distress Frequency
Downs: The White Ghost

“She traded her eyes for forbidden knowledge.” 

When creating the character of Susan Downs, I was looking for something with a strong logline that could carry any story I felt like telling. I wanted something with a supernatural bent, and I was tired of the crime noir stuff I’d been doing before that. She’s appeared in four comic books, a few ashcans, two short films, and now audio fiction. 

Alycia Yates returns from the movies to portray Susan on radio. I can’t say enough about her performance as the character. She brings a sense of humor to that I think Susan has, but I don’t always get onto the page. She’s an offbeat performer, comfortable with all sorts of wacky stuff, and I could not do this without her. Alycia – thanks.  

Jenny Key brings the low-key thunder as Emily Exeter, a woman who sold out her friend but didn’t get much out of it. She really communicates the character’s sense of world-weary shame. And much thanks to Tiffany Kiely for stepping in as the White Ghost. She’s a perfect otherworldly presence, and I do believe she could pull out someone’s heart.  

This is one of the few Distress Frequency pieces that has anything approaching a happy ending. As Susan says, “Vengeance isn’t my thing.”  

More Susan Downs 

Here’s where you can find more Susan Downs: 

Movie 1: A Voice from the Dead 

Movie 2: Angel’s Pin 

Downs Comix on Amazon Kindle


Hoo boy, this one’s been a long road. 

This was one of the first ones we recorded, nearly four years ago. In between then and now are at least one round of re-records, a guitar jam session, my grad school program, at least one child, and a pretty steep learning curve with Adobe Audition. I did this one originally in Audacity, then switched to Audition, then lost that version (something about the files opening on a flash drive – don’t ask), then had to mix it all over again.  

I’m still having a little trouble with the stereo mix on this one – all I can say is I’m sorry. I believe pretty strongly in releasing and moving on to the next thing, but there are definitely some moments I’d like back.  (I mean, I don’t regret them badly enough to mix the damn thing a third time, but you know.)


This specific story was inspired by two old-time radio shows. First, an obscure 1942 radio show called “Come to the Bank,” by Lights Out. In that story, a fellow learns how to walk through walls but gets stuck in the wall of the bank. Second is the Orson Welles version of “The Count of Monte Cristo.” The main character of “Monte Cristo” is wrongly thrown in jail, makes a daring escape, and takes revenge on the ones that sent him there.   

Hmmm, now that I’m writing this out, the piece feels a little derivative.  

Susan herself is a descendant of any mysterious stranger who sweeps in and solves someone’s problem, most notably the Phantom Stranger, Captain Kirk and Knight Rider.

Alternate Ending 

The original ending had Kat Kenner trapped inside the mountain, entombed until she found enlightenment. The ending I went with is a little jokier, but I thought it but more human. I didn’t feel like being elegiac at that moment. I guess you can take your pick.  

The Greatest Show (Left) On Earth

Distress Frequency
Distress Frequency
The Greatest Show (Left) On Earth

Jerod Brennan always goes dark.

I’ve mentioned this before, but when we were first conceiving this show, for some reason we kept coming back to threats to children. “Godmother” was my riff on this theme, and Greatest Show is Jerod’s. He, uh, managed to go a little darker than me.

Greatest Show (Left) on Earth started out as a 5-page short film script that Jerod wrote a few years ago. I didn’t do much to adapt it – mostly I converted the stage directions to first-person narration or dialogue.

For example, here’s how the Crooked Man’s intro is described in the original script:


The Crooked Man BARKS at the crowd, drawing them toward the tent. He collects items from them as admission: a can of food, a book of matches, a winter coat.

I converted that to the spiel that Max delivers as we enter the tent for the final performance.

I’d like to give a special shout-out to Dan Kiely for striking the right world-weary note for Harry’s narration. He really sounds like a guy who “escaped the end of the world.”

Cast & Crew

  • Harry Weisz: Dan Kiely
  • Clem: Tiffany Kiely
  • The Crooked Man: Max Groah
  • Young Nathan: Tony Goins
  • Written by: Jerod Brennan
  • Adapted and Produced by: Tony Goins
  • Recordamatography: Micah Jenkins

Bong of the Living Dead

So I mentioned that Dan Kiely, Tiffany Kiely and Max Groah are part of a local film group called Backward Slate Productions, and that they have a movie called “Bong of the Living Dead,” and that film is available on DVD, Blu-Ray and glorious VHS. Friends, I’m here to tell you that’s all true.

It played a crap-ton of festivals last year, and it is indeed available in all of those formats.

Backward Slate Productions

Bong of the Living Dead

Bong of the Living Dead at Scream Team Releasing

SFX Corner

A lot of the heavy lifting in this show is done by Kevin MacLeod’s “Waltz of the Carnies,” which is gratefully acknowledged here. I don’t know anything about Kevin, and if there’s dirt on him, don’t tell me, because he’s aces in my book.

Kevin MacLeod’s “Waltz of the Carnies”

I also used the following from Freesound.org:

And a number from ZapSplat:

The trickiest foley in this piece was the scene with Harry and Clem. The script called for light wind and a Geiger counter. How do you depict a light wind? Over audio, any wind at all sounds like a hurricane. I opted to put in wind chimes. I guess Harry is a wind chime guy.

Some of the foley was performed live by me: The handcuffs at the beginning are a pair of slip-nose pliers, and the ticking at the end was a fingernail clipper. I’m snapping the lever backwards in time to the action.

Making Ends Meet

Distress Frequency
Distress Frequency
Making Ends Meet

I actually read this story a few years ago in Fantasy Scroll Magazine, and when I got in touch with Jarod I suggested it could make a good radio story. It has a strong narrator, a nice twist, and – most importantly – it ain’t too long.

This episode marks the first one of our second season, and also a chance to work with a lot of new talent. I’m always impressed by the quality of performers and writers in Columbus, and I know I haven’t scratched the surface:

  • Writer: Jarod K. Anderson
  • The Clerk: Stefan Langer
  • The Receptionist: Emily Turner
  • The Production Manager: Tony Goins
  • Adapted and Produced by: Tony Goins

Both Emily and Stefan are well-known actors around town – Stefan most recently appeared as Thomas Jefferson in Red Herring Productions’ production of Discord and Scaramouch in The Emperor of the Moon with Actor’s Theatre of Columbus. Emily is a playwright and actor whose full-length show, Girl, In Progress was recently produced by Red Herring Production, and she was the playwright-in-residence at Curtain Players Theatre as part of its 2019 New Works Initiative.

Jarod K. is a familiar podcaster around town, probably best known for writing and performing “The CrypoNaturalist,” a kind of Marlin Perkins for the supernatural. That show is always at the top of my queue whenever he releases a new episode. It’s about finding beauty everywhere around you – arguably the opposite of Distress Frequency, but it’s a great show.

One last piece of good fortune for this piece: I had a chest cold when I recorded the Production Manager. I felt like crap, but it really helped for the performance. I also benefited from having Stefan and Emily on hand while I was recording. They urged me to do it with more menace, and you can hear their direction in the final edit.

I’d like to talk more about Emily’s work as the Receptionist – it’s a short part, but she really sets the tone as the Clerk steps into the supernatural. She gave us a half-dozen different approaches to that role, ranging from bored to sassy to creepy. I’m working on another piece so you can hear how the different approaches would’ve made it a very different piece, so look for that in your feed.

SFX Corner

I had a heck of a time nailing down the conveyor belt sfx. I searched Freesound.Net, tried a bicycle chain, I tried to gimmick up something with a length of chain … nothing worked. Then, I went to my friends’ annual apple cider party. What you’re hearing is actually an 1870s-era cider press. It’s a crank-driven mechanism that crushes apples for apple cider.

So the whole sound works like this: First, you hear a screech that’s from the swingset at the park down the street from our house. Then, you hear a thrum I downloaded off Freesound.org. Then, you get the cider press, and it’s topped off with an “air brake” sound I also got from Freesound.

Bottom line: Nothing in that sfx is related to machinery or conveyor belts. Sfx is often about how a thing *should* sound, rather than trying to get a real-life recreation of the thing.

I threw a link up to the original cider press recording on Freesound.org. it’s creative commons if you want to use it for something. Drop me a line if you do; I’d love to hear it. It looks like it’s been downloaded 20 times so far!

Here are the Freesound.Org sounds you hear in this piece, gratefully acknowledged:


Aw, man. Today I’m mourning the passage of one of the all-time greats, Norm Breyfogle.

(All my comics are in storage right now, so I’m doing this from memory. But here’s the impression BREYFOGLE made on me.)

‘Tec 607, my introduction to BREYFOGLE

This here is the first Batman comic I bought when I got into comix: Detective Comics 607, dated October 1989. It’s the fourth issue of an arc, so I came in at the tail end, but I was still hooked.

My comix habit started with three series: Batman (Aparo), Detective Comics, and the Shadow Strikes! (Eduardo Barretto – also RIP). Barretto struck me as the best artist – Aparo seemed a little square, and I wouldn’t really appreciate him until later. But ‘Tec, with Alan Grant writing and BREYFOGLE on art, was this little pocket of weirdness in the Batverse.

BREYFOGLE’S Batman didn’t have the confident athleticism of Garcia-Lopez, who I always associate with Batman consumer products, and he wasn’t as abstract Image-inspired artists like Jim Lee. He knew his anatomy, but he wasn’t a draftsman quite like Aparo.

BREYFOGLE’S art was fluid. BREYFOGLE’S Batman twisted around gargoyles or stood as imposing as a monolith. Sometimes he was abstract – just the outline of his white eyes, bat-ears and bat-eyebrows, and a scowl.

Other times, BREYFOGLE’S Batman was all too solid, folding over a kick or knocked halfway across the page by some lucky punk with a lead pipe. His Batman was truly grief-stricken whenever an innocent was hurt. BREYFOGLE’S Batman suffered.

I don’t think anyone did body language as well as he did. When I try to draw a dynamic pose, BREYFOGLE is who I try to channel. Here’s Tim Drake in the vest and booties, getting ready to do some business:

Tim Drake is mad

And no one, ever, did a better look of shock than BREYFOGLE.





Distress Frequency
Distress Frequency


Spoilers and behind-the scenes stuff is at the bottom –

Uploading your consciousness to the cloud – we’re going to see if we can make that old sci-fi trope even more horrifying than it was already.

While we’re talking about tropes, it’s a trope to say that “It came to me in a dream.” But … I still have a sense-memory of waking up with this scenario on my mind.

This story is an example of what I call “dirtbag future.” Most of what we see as the future is just bolted onto the present. There’s not going to be a movement that wipes away the present and replaces it with a Jetsons-type future. That goes double for the people that are living here. I wanted to write a sci-fi story starring people I went to high school with.


  • Greg: Micah Jenkins
  • Medical Brain Scan Simulator: Alycia Yates
  • Recordamatography: Micah Jenkins
  • Writer / Producer: Tony Goins

SFX from the following Freesound.net users:

CarStartSkidCrash.wav by musicmasta1

Boot Sound by GameAudio


Micah did a great job with this one – my favorite moment is when he’s recording the message for his kids. I liked that on the page, but he really brought it to life.

My favorite moment here is the very end, when Micah’s character says he thought there’d be more to the afterlife than this. It’s after the end for him, and he makes a bid for a little human connection.  The machine just gives him a canned response that’s had all the humanity vetted out by the legal department.

For me, the horror aspect of this story isn’t being trapped in a computer. It’s the idea that this amazing sci-fi technology would be used for filling out hospital paperwork.

Tony vs. Star Wars 9

OK, OK, they’re not going to call me to write Star Wars 9. But if they do … I could not stop myself from doing an extended treatment for the next movie.

I’m tying up plot points from the trilogy while leaning heavily into the F&*K Yeah! moments. Read my treatment to see Rey develop the power of God, the funeral of Leia, Poe’s massive gun, The Knights of Ren bullying Gen. Hux, Finn among the troops and #WookieHugs. I’ll be tweeting my favorite moments over the next few days.

Read my Star Wars 9 Treatment (.pdf)

Here are my entry points for the story:

  1. Kylo Ren can conquer the galaxy, but he has no interest in actually running it. This opens him up to all kinds of grifters and con men.
  2. Rey wants to be a hero, but she’s afraid of becoming a monster. Kylo wants her to be a monster with him, and he’ll make her kill people until he turns her. There’s your personal conflict.
  3. The big questions, denouement-wise, are A) Whether Kylo gets a redemption and B) Whether Rey has to kill him herself. Stay tuned.
  4. Finn started out fleeing the First Order, but now he’s a committed soldier. He’s the avatar for every faceless Alliance fighter who died so Luke could finally have a heart-to-heart with his dad.
  5. Poe is trying to be the leader Leia saw in him while retaining his dashing fighter pilot vibe.

A few more assumptions:

  • The Last Jedi was an awesome movie.
  • Kylo wants Rey with him. It’s unhealthy but not necessarily sexual – he can’t articulate what he wants. His self-awareness is pretty limited. His strategy is to force her to kill a lot of people until she turns to the dark side.
  • Both the Resistance and the First Order are battered. The Resistance is depleted and never had the industrial base the Alliance had. The First Order is overextended and it does not have the manpower to run its massive ships or control systems.
  • The danger of Kylo isn’t that he’ll conquer the galaxy, but that he’ll burn it down. The galaxy is splitting from a peaceful order to a mess of competing systems. This is all background, though.
  • The Republic funded the Resistance as a proxy militia, but never intended to fight the First Order directly. As the show begins, the Republic is still in chaos and trying to keep systems from seceding and going to war with each other.
  • I’m basically punting on the ‘ships between Rey/Finn, Finn/Rose and Poe/*.

New characters

  • Ashenden – leader of the Resistance Commandos. He is an aristocratic type, dashing and daring. In any other movie, he’d be the hero.
  • Kear Alroy – a civilian leader for the First Order, a very effective administrator, but also corrupt and greedy. Picture an anti-Leia – she has Leia’s drive and sardonic wit, but none of her nobility.
  • The Commodore – one of the highest-ranking officers left in the Republic. An old friend of Poe’s, but there’s not much he can do to help the Resistance.

Read my Star Wars 9 Treatment (.pdf)

The Palomino Station Murder

Distress Frequency
Distress Frequency
The Palomino Station Murder


The pitch for this was pretty simple: Our Town, but on a space station, and with a murder.

Where I come from isn’t exactly a small town, but it’s pretty close. As I picture a space station, I picture it being pretty much like that, but more so. No one’s moving in and no one’s taking off for the big city like I did.

And murder always gives a story a good structure. The murder is the beginning, the end is the capture, and everything on the way is the middle.

This is actually one of the first stories we did – The recording date was December 29, 2015. So yeah, this project was a long time in the works.

Cast Notes

Once again, we turn to Micah on this one as the unnamed Station Administrator. I think he’d actually be pretty good at that job. Alycia Yates joins us as Young Becky Clevenger, and that’s me (Tony Goins) making a cameo as the young murderer.


This show puts me in mind of two other great shows that are under way right now. I’ve got them on my subscription list and I recommend them wholeheartedly.


Distress Frequency
Distress Frequency


Tony Goins: Like I said before, when we conceived of this series, we got a lot of submissions involving a child in peril … or a child as a cause of peril. This is my contribution to that genre.

Our second child was born with a serious case of jaundice, culminating in an awful New Year’s in Columbus’ Children’s Hospital. Jaundice is pretty surreal: All the doctors thought he’d be fine, but there was a small chance he’d have permanent brain damage.

Around the same time, I heard an old-time radio story (I can’t remember which one) about a fellow facing a family curse. The two ideas came together neatly.

” At night, she made little cries, and we’d pray for her to go to sleep. Then she’d be still, and we’d be sure she was dead.” – That’s real.

Cast Notes

Jenny Key is heart-wrenching as the scared mother Allison. I put the piece in her hands, and she carries it. But my single favorite moment is Aaron Sinclair’s breakdown. To really sell the horror, the character’s masculinity has to break. Aaron does not hesitate.

Micah Jenkins continues to steal shows as Jerry, the kindly old Wiccan bookstore owner, and what else can I say about Alycia Yates? She has handled everything I’ve thrown at her. I love to *hear* her take something offbeat and knock it out of the park.

Jerod Brennen does some behind-the-scenes work directing, and elevates the whole thing. He did a couple of impromptu discussion sessions between takes, working with the actors to find their characters. That’s a weak suit of mine, and very illuminating to watch.


This piece has a clear antecedent in a 1930s series called “The Witch’s Tale,” a series of nasty tales narrated by “Old Nancy, the Witch of Salem, and her wise old black cat, Satan.” She’s like the Old Witch from the EC Comics, but right in your ear-hole. My usual source is Relic Radio, available wherever fine podcasts are sold.

Sound Acknowledgments

The following sounds are from Freesound.Org, and are acknowledged here with my deep gratitude.

  • Buddhist Prayer Bell.wav by surly
  • baby singing talking by Yuval
  • Cat Angry Meow.WAV by softcoresoft
  • Crying newborn baby child 3.WAV by the_yura

Dinner Party

Distress Frequency
Distress Frequency
Dinner Party


Our first little tale is entitled Dinner Party, and it’s about a couple of thieves … no, that’s not right. You know that couple that seems really perfect – hmmm, that would give too much away. You ever wonder what your neighbors are really – nah.

Y’know, kids, you may just need to experience this one for yourself.

Cast of Characters

Chet: Micah Jenkins

Katrina: Jenny Hickey

Bret: Zack Starr

Tim: Ben Sholl

Officer Stanton: JATS

Charlotte: Alycia Yates

General Tyler: Jerod Brennen

Stockboy Billy: Tony Goins

Mayor Johnson: Dustin Richardson